The commission was joined by legislators, retired military folks and a host of interests from areas surrounding Whitman Airforce Base and Fort Leonard Wood such as school officials, chambers of commerce members, Realtors and others.
Reports were given by the USS Missouri Submarine Commissioning Committee, National Guard and Military Base liasons. Additionally, Pat Kerr with the Veterans Commission talked about how vital it is that veterans and military families are educated about the benefits available to them.
Kerr says with 541,000 veterans in Missouri with their families, that means more than 3 million people are affected by military news. She urged everyone to frequently check the VA Web site for changes in benefits.
Concerns were brought up about K through 12 education rules that affect incoming military transfers. Roger Dorson with the Department of Education says those who must live on base — if they want their children to go to school in a different district — have to pay tuition. Dorson says the concerns can probably be addressed with a change in bylaws.
Retired Col. Dennis Sandbothe talked about the National Guard Youth Challenge Program, spearheaded by Congressman Ike Skelton. He compares the program to ROTC and says Missouri used to have the program but it went away because of a lack of state funding. He says it takes at-risk youth and puts them into a good environment.
There have been four USS Missouri ships throughout history … the fifth is being built in Connecticut.
Sam Bushman with the USS Missouri Submarine Commissioning Committee says the commission date keeps getting pushed up and now the group has about a year to raise $300,000.
Bushman says there are some things the Navy cannot pay for — one is the highly ceremonial and traditional commissioning of a vessel. He says the committee’s fundraising provides amenities on vessels such as home theaters and libraries, and pays for the celebrations surrounding a new ship’s commissioning.